We hear all the time about things a writer must do to be considered, well, a writer. Primary research, grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, plot, characterization, and a partridge in a pear tree. All are great things. And all of them are tools that should be in your tool box. But, if I'm being honest, there are only really two things that a person must do to be a writer. Careful, now, because I'm about to dispel a lifetime of myths and magick about my chosen craft, and in so doing I could bring the literary world down about my ears.
|Pictured... A world of my making.|
The first thing a person, any person, has to do to be a writer is to simply read. You thought I was going to say something really hard, right? Nope. Reading. If you want to write, you have to read.
|Remember these things?|
|Yes, really. Ass.|
|Pictured: A Master.|
So that's it. Thing one that every writer must do is read. Simple really, yet I often am surprised at how many wannabe writers casually quip "Oh, I don't read. I don't want to sully my creative process with other people's stuff." Seriously, I've heard that. And I laugh at it. On this point, I am inflexible. If you want to be a writer, you need to read. You either believe that, or you're wrong.
|Only two types of people...|
Which brings me to thing number two that all people must do to become professional writers. It's a little tricky, maybe a little outside-of-the-box, so follow me on this one. Place butt in chair and fingers to keyboard. It's a two parter, so let's break that down. First, butt in chair:
|You know who you are.|
|No, not even him.|
The other things mentioned at the top of this picture-laden blog entry will make you a good writer. But before you can become a good writer, you must first become a writer. No one is born good. No one is born with a backlist. Ray Bradbury said once that your imagination is just like any other muscle in your body, and you must treat it as such. If you exercise it daily, it will grow in strength. If you don't, it will atrophy and die. Truer words were never spoken. There's another saying among painters (I think) that my wife is fond of quoting. To say it in my own words (because I never get the phrasing exactly right), inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals show up and get to work. What that means, to me, is that, if you wait for inspiration to strike (or for the muse to leave little idea-turd on your shoulder), you're unlikely to get a story finished, much less make a career out of this. If you carve out a time for yourself and treat this like a profession, you will at least have a fighting chance.
So that's it. That's all you have to do. Read. Read everything. Read until there's nothing left to read (which will never happen). Then write. Pour your soul on the page. That's what we do, after all. When it's all said and done, the only thing we writers really have to do is open a vein and bleed all over the page. I stole the last graphic in this post from another blog (http://www.thebeginningwriter.com/) because it perfectly illustrates the point I'm trying to make, and I've pinned it to my Pinterest board. Yes, I have a Pinterest board. No excuses. You either want to be a writer, or you don't. If you want to, but can't be bothered to read, can't be troubled to put your ass in your chair and your fingers to the keyboard daily, then you really can't want it badly, can you?
|Now get to work.|